Put the paperwork behind you: a musician checklist for 2016

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A music business checklist for indie bands in 2016:

The music business to-do list for DIY musicians

I know you didn’t get into music because you just love filling out forms and waiting for files to upload. But part of professionalizing your music career does involve paperwork, profile maintenance, proper rights registration, and more.

Checking off the items on this list might not be as fun as writing a new song, but it’s important — and what better time to commit to getting it done than the beginning of a new year?

The business side of your music deserves attention too, and the earlier you take care of this stuff, the better off you’ll be when it comes to promotion, generating revenue, and more.

So set an achievable goal for yourself and tackle one of these items per week over the next couple months:

1. Register with SoundExchange to collect your digital performance royalties.

2. Register your copyright to make sure you have the most protection in the case of copyright infringement.

3. Sign up your entire back catalog for sync licensing and YouTube monetization. Your old music will always be new to someone, and music supervisors don’t care about when a song was released, only that it’s perfect for their film or TV show.

4. Register with a publishing rights administrator to collect all the publishing royalties you’re owed. With CD Baby Pro, we’ll handle the paperwork for you (song registration, P.R.O. affiliation, etc.)

5. Trademark your band name so no one else can use it. You might not think there are two different bands called Bran Flake Demon Wings, but with a name like that, better to be safe than sorry!

6. Submit your music to Pandora, because — well — it’s Pandora, and tons of people discover new music there every day.

7. Try to get on Wikipedia (assuming you meet their notability guidelines).

8. Create a press page on your website that includes everything someone in the media would need to write about your music (hi-res photos, a bio/press release, audio, etc.).

9. Optimize your YouTube channel to drive more video views and subscribers.

10. Draft a band agreement. Been putting off the uncomfortable discussions around how you and your band members divvy up responsibilities, share credit, split royalties, and make decisions? Don’t! Talk about this stuff as soon as possible, and put it in writing. This uncomfortable discussion could be the very thing that keeps your band together.

What other crucial items did I leave off the list? What are you going to tackle in 2016? Let me know in the comments.

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[Form image from Shutterstock.]

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